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  1. Abstract Stochastic models of character trait evolution have become a cornerstone of evolutionary biology in an array of contexts. While probabilistic models have been used extensively for statistical inference, they have largely been ignored for the purpose of measuring distances between phylogeny-aware models. Recent contributions to the problem of phylogenetic distance computation have highlighted the importance of explicitly considering evolutionary model parameters and their impacts on molecular sequence data when quantifying dissimilarity between trees. By comparing two phylogenies in terms of their induced probability distributions that are functions of many model parameters, these distances can be more informative than traditional approaches that rely strictly on differences in topology or branch lengths alone. Currently, however, these approaches are designed for comparing models of nucleotide substitution and gene tree distributions, and thus, are unable to address other classes of traits and associated models that may be of interest to evolutionary biologists. Here we expand the principles of probabilistic phylogenetic distances to compute tree distances under models of continuous trait evolution along a phylogeny. By explicitly considering both the degree of relatedness among species and the evolutionary processes that collectively give rise to character traits, these distances provide a foundation for comparing modelsmore »and their predictions, and for quantifying the impacts of assuming one phylogenetic background over another while studying the evolution of a particular trait. We demonstrate the properties of these approaches using theory, simulations, and several empirical datasets that highlight potential uses of probabilistic distances in many scenarios. We also introduce an open-source R package named PRDATR for easy application by the scientific community for computing phylogenetic distances under models of character trait evolution.« less
  2. Ponty, Yann (Ed.)
    Abstract Summary Here, we present PhyloWGA, an open source R package for conducting phylogenetic analysis and investigation of whole genome data. Availabilityand implementation Available at Github ( Supplementary information Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
  3. Arkhipova, Irina (Ed.)
    Abstract Microchromosomes are common yet poorly understood components of many vertebrate genomes. Recent studies have revealed that microchromosomes contain a high density of genes and possess other distinct characteristics compared with macrochromosomes. Whether distinctive characteristics of microchromosomes extend to features of genome structure and organization, however, remains an open question. Here, we analyze Hi-C sequencing data from multiple vertebrate lineages and show that microchromosomes exhibit consistently high degrees of interchromosomal interaction (particularly with other microchromosomes), appear to be colocalized to a common central nuclear territory, and are comprised of a higher proportion of open chromatin than macrochromosomes. These findings highlight an unappreciated level of diversity in vertebrate genome structure and function, and raise important questions regarding the evolutionary origins and ramifications of microchromosomes and the genes that they house.
  4. Abstract Despite the ubiquitous use of statistical models for phylogenomic and population genomic inferences, this model-based rigor is rarely applied to post hoc comparison of trees. In a recent study, Garba et al. derived new methods for measuring the distance between two gene trees computed as the difference in their site pattern probability distributions. Unlike traditional metrics that compare trees solely in terms of geometry, these measures consider gene trees and associated parameters as probabilistic models that can be compared using standard information theoretic approaches. Consequently, probabilistic measures of phylogenetic tree distance can be far more informative than simply comparisons of topology and/or branch lengths alone. However, in their current form, these distance measures are not suitable for the comparison of species tree models in the presence of gene tree heterogeneity. Here, we demonstrate an approach for how the theory of Garba et al. (2018), which is based on gene tree distances, can be extended naturally to the comparison of species tree models. Multispecies coalescent (MSC) models parameterize the discrete probability distribution of gene trees conditioned upon a species tree with a particular topology and set of divergence times (in coalescent units), and thus provide a framework for measuring distancesmore »between species tree models in terms of their corresponding gene tree topology probabilities. We describe the computation of probabilistic species tree distances in the context of standard MSC models, which assume complete genetic isolation postspeciation, as well as recent theoretical extensions to the MSC in the form of network-based MSC models that relax this assumption and permit hybridization among taxa. We demonstrate these metrics using simulations and empirical species tree estimates and discuss both the benefits and limitations of these approaches. We make our species tree distance approach available as an R package called pSTDistanceR, for open use by the community.« less
  5. Abstract Meiotic recombination in vertebrates is concentrated in hotspots throughout the genome. The location and stability of hotspots have been linked to the presence or absence of PRDM9, leading to two primary models for hotspot evolution derived from mammals and birds. Species with PRDM9-directed recombination have rapid turnover of hotspots concentrated in intergenic regions (i.e., mammals), whereas hotspots in species lacking PRDM9 are concentrated in functional regions and have greater stability over time (i.e., birds). Snakes possess PRDM9, yet virtually nothing is known about snake recombination. Here, we examine the recombination landscape and test hypotheses about the roles of PRDM9 in rattlesnakes. We find substantial variation in recombination rate within and among snake chromosomes, and positive correlations between recombination rate and gene density, GC content, and genetic diversity. Like mammals, snakes appear to have a functional and active PRDM9, but rather than being directed away from genes, snake hotspots are concentrated in promoters and functional regions—a pattern previously associated only with species that lack a functional PRDM9. Snakes therefore provide a unique example of recombination landscapes in which PRDM9 is functional, yet recombination hotspots are associated with functional genic regions—a combination of features that defy existing paradigms for recombination landscapesmore »in vertebrates. Our findings also provide evidence that high recombination rates are a shared feature of vertebrate microchromosomes. Our results challenge previous assumptions about the adaptive role of PRDM9 and highlight the diversity of recombination landscape features among vertebrate lineages.« less
  6. Abstract Convergent evolution is often documented in organisms inhabiting isolated environments with distinct ecological conditions and similar selective regimes. Several Central America islands harbor dwarf Boa populations that are characterized by distinct differences in growth, mass, and craniofacial morphology, which are linked to the shared arboreal and feast-famine ecology of these island populations. Using high-density RADseq data, we inferred three dwarf island populations with independent origins and demonstrate that selection, along with genetic drift, has produced both divergent and convergent molecular evolution across island populations. Leveraging whole-genome resequencing data for 20 individuals and a newly annotated Boa genome, we identify four genes with evidence of phenotypically relevant protein-coding variation that differentiate island and mainland populations. The known roles of these genes involved in body growth (PTPRS, DMGDH, and ARSB), circulating fat and cholesterol levels (MYLIP), and craniofacial development (DMGDH and ARSB) in mammals link patterns of molecular evolution with the unique phenotypes of these island forms. Our results provide an important genome-wide example for quantifying expectations of selection and convergence in closely related populations. We also find evidence at several genomic loci that selection may be a prominent force of evolutionary change—even for small island populations for which drift ismore »predicted to dominate. Overall, while phenotypically convergent island populations show relatively few loci under strong selection, infrequent patterns of molecular convergence are still apparent and implicate genes with strong connections to convergent phenotypes.« less